The Tasting Table| Advice from the heart

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This month felt like the perfect time to revisit sage advice from a cross-section of authors who have already visited us at The Tasting Table.

With the recent events surrounding plagiarism, there’s been some insightful blogs from authors such as Nora Roberts and Courtney Milan, who are both affected. There is a total of twenty nine authors identified as being plagiarised so far, including our own Anne Gracie. This causes unrest and worry for other authors, published or not, which is completely understandable.

Today we will highlight inspirational words of advice from nine authors in the sub-genre blogs they contributed to. Let their wisdom fill you with confidence to take the world by storm, no matter what you write. When your words are yours, they are always wonderful!

Please visit each author on their website to learn more about them.

I asked: Please share some advice to those interested in writing this genre.

Valerie Parv, Contemporary Romance: Firstly, love what you do. The stories that inspire you are the ones you should write. Second, be prepared to take creative risks even if the market needs time to catch up with you. And thirdly, keep your writing up to date. Valerie’s Website

Athena Daniels, Paranormal Romance: There is a wonderful freedom when writing in this genre, you can take the reader out of their comfort zone and be as creative as you like. Don’t be scared to push the limits and write outside the box. Athena’s Website

Sasha Cottman, Regency Romance: Research and keep researching. Travel to London if you can because there are still some shops open today that were in business during the Regency period.

Have fun with history. Ignore the naysayers who will try to tell you historical romance does not sell. It does. It’s the second biggest romance genre after contemporary. You can make a living out of writing Regency Romance.

Join the RWA Historical Loop on Facebook! Sasha’s Website

Susanne Bellamy, Christmas Romance: As with any seasonal holiday, it is important to ground the story within the essence of the holiday, and select a few of the wide range of trappings and understanding of what the season represents. For example, my family’s Aussie Christmas tradition might include (but not be limited to) the idea of beach cricket, sea, summer, prawns and salads, carols, presents under the tree, Santa arriving in the beach patrol boat and so on. But if your Christmas story is set in the back of Bourke, there are obvious differences. Regardless of that fact, the essence of Christmas still needs to be created. Trappings will change: Santa might arrive in a double-B Mac truck, the Christmas tree might be a eucalyptus, and the beach might be red dirt, but the ideas of family coming together and of giving to others will permeate the story. Susanne’s Website

Carla Caruso, Food for love: This sort of storytelling really has to come from the heart. So don’t jump on a ‘chocolate’ theme, for example, if the confection doesn’t excite you. (Although, are you mad, ha?)

Even though my mum and nonna are/were far better cooks than me, I am passionate about Italian food. It evokes memories of my childhood and the women who’ve come before me.

Once you’ve picked your food theme, really run with it. Infuse your novel with it.

And if reviewers write things like “I constantly felt hungry” (as they did with The Right Place), then you know you’ve hit the mark. Carla’s Website

Elizabeth Ellen Carter, Historical Romance: Walk a mile in your character’s shoes and remember, they are just as real and as human as you and your family, your neighbours, your colleagues. Human nature is immutable – the things which make us love, laugh and cry today are true of 40 years ago, 400 years ago or 4000 years ago.

And, most importantly, only YOU can tell their story.

Love your history and be true to it. I’ve seen big name authors make huge mistakes by giving their characters 21st century biases and expectations. It jars and destroys the suspension of disbelief that all good stories have. Elizabeth’s Website

In October, we enjoyed a Romantic Degustation and I asked the following: What is the secret to your success?

Anne Gracie: I’ve been very lucky, finding editors who believe in my writing. I think people like my voice, which means the kind of characters I write, and the themes I explore. Readers say the books make them laugh and also cry — in a good way. <g>

Consistency helps — that readers know what they’ll be getting. If people love one book of yours, they’ll want a similar kind of read — not the same story of course, but the same kind of emotional experience.

I also think it’s hanging in there, writing the next book and the next and the next. So that when a new reader finds and likes your work, there’s a backlist waiting for them to glom. That’s why all my books are still in print. Anne’s Website

Annie Seaton: A combination starting with passion, determination and tenacity.  A prolific output, and the early establishment of my brand, with constant tweaking and daily marketing. Also joining Romance Writers of Australia when I began writing and learning about the craft of romance writing, and self-publishing was a key factor in my development as an author. Annie’s Website

Anna Jacobs: A combination starting with passion, determination and tenacity.  A prolific output, and the early establishment of my brand, with constant tweaking and daily marketing. Also joining Romance Writers of Australia when I began writing and learning about the craft of romance writing, and self-publishing was a key factor in my development as an author. Anna’s Website


Phillipa Nefri Clark

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Phillipa grew up along lonely Australian beaches with wild seas and misty cliffs. From a young age she wrote stories and dreamed of being a writer.

These days she spends half her week running part of the family business and the other writing. Currently she is working on the third in her River’s End series.

Living in regional Australia on a small acreage close to a mountain range, Phillipa’s great loves – apart from writing – are her family of two young adult sons and husband, their Labrador, music, fine wine, and friends.

Check our her website, contact her by email, or follow on her on Facebook and Twitter

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